Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Birketts LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Birketts LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any other? ‘The breadth of seat options, rate of growth, the market-leading position and London service-standard matched with a better work/life balance’; ‘regional firm with very high quality work’, ‘compared with other firms in the region, Birketts has probably one of the best, if not the best, training contract and is definitely the one everyone wants’

Best thing about the firm? ‘How approachable everyone is! No one – from partners to secretaries – minds if you ask them a question. In fact, everyone is always very friendly and takes the time to really answer properly’; ‘certainly the culture. The partners are approachable and generous with their time, which ultimately is what any trainee should be looking for’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Not enough engagement between the offices in terms of socialising. Although the Summer Quiz and Christmas party certainly make up for it!’; ‘obviously working for a regional firm is less lucrative than going into the City. There is a trade-off in salary which is naturally lower than in firms that demand more of your time’

Best moment? ‘Attending a highly-publicised manslaughter trial which I had spent many hours working on’; ‘doing the advocacy for a client in the family court and meeting clients on my own’; ‘handling my own client file and working on the transaction from beginning to end’; ‘attending a mediation with a partner in a partnership dispute worth upwards of a million’

Worst moment? ‘Being in the office until very late preparing court bundles on my own with no assistance and pressing deadlines to meet’; ‘going from having so much to do to nothing at all and having to wait a couple of hours for something to come up’; ‘making a stupid mistake and getting dressed down by a partner (it was deserved in fairness)’

The Lex 100 verdict on Birketts LLP

The firm: Birketts is an ambitious and entrepreneurial top 100 UK law firm, based in East Anglia and London. With a rich heritage spanning over 150 years, we have built an enviable track record advising businesses, institutions and individuals in the UK and internationally.

The deals: advised The Milbank Group on the acquisition of pioneering plant bio stimulant business Orion Future Technology Ltd; advised McGee Trustee Limited in respect of the sale of 100% of the McGee Group into an employee ownership trust (EOT) for the sole benefit of approximately 375 McGee Group employees; advised on the acquisition of DCUK FM, a leading asbestos removal business, from Marlowe plc for a sum of £7m; advised the co-founders of leading tech PR agency Dynamo Communications Limited on its sale to pioneering global communications firm Clarity London Ltd, for an undisclosed sum; advised the owner of leading commercial maritime company Charity and Taylor on its sale to Aage Hempel Crame, a subsidiary of global specialised marine electronic solutions group Grupo Arbulu for an undisclosed sum. 

The clients: World Medicine Ltd; The Jockey Club Racecourses Ltd; Jesus College Oxford; RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP; Kettle Foods; Hutchinson Ports/Port of Felixstowe; Amnesty International; Hopkins Homes Ltd; Cambridgeshire County Council; Pemberton Trustees.

The verdict

One of East Anglia’s most successful law firms, Birketts LLP has benefitted from its considerable growth in the last decade to become a firm favourite with trainees outside London. Trainees looking for a ‘City-firm standard of work with regional firm work/life balance’ are attracted to Bricketts for its ‘reputation in the region’ and for ‘having a more relaxed atmosphere’. Birketts repeats its Lex 100 Winner awards for work/life balance as well as for trainee confidence in retention upon completion of the training contract. Both awards are testament to the firm’s well-deserved reputation for training and approachability. Trainees highlight that ‘compared with other firms in the region, Birketts has probably one of the best, if not the best, training contract and is definitely the one everyone wants’. The firm is ‘comparable to City firms, only without the same level of stress. The calibre of clients is high and often you are involved throughout a case, which provides depth and variety to your training’. Training is described as providing ‘lots of responsibility, much better hours, more variety of experience, less pressure, more approachable supervisors and a more relaxed culture’ with a large ‘breadth of seat options’. The firm has a strong pro-bono programme as well as CSR activities, such as the Sleep Out in Norwich and participation in the 2020 Cumbrian Challenge for Walking with the Wounded. Trainee highlights include ‘doing the advocacy for a client in the family court’, ‘attending a highly-publicised manslaughter trial’, ‘first completion in my commercial property seat’ and ‘attending a mediation with a partner in a partnership dispute worth upwards of a million and being trusted with the settlement documentation’.

A day in the life of… James Stocker, fourth-seat trainee, Birketts LLP

James Stocker, Birketts LLP

Departments to date: Commercial property, charities and social enterprise, corporate, and commercial litigation

University: Durham University

Degree: BA Business and Management, 2(1)

8.45am: I arrive in the office, get logged in and check my emails. As it’s my turn, I set about making teas and coffees for the team.

9.15am: We have a weekly catch up in the corporate team to discuss workloads and anything happening in the firm which is of interest. Today there is a short update regarding the firm’s ‘Good to Great’ programme, which is an initiative to ensure that we are providing the very best service to our clients.

9.40: I’m attending a client meeting with my supervisor today. As a trainee, I’m invited to almost all client meetings my supervisor has, which is a fantastic way of learning how to interview clients and give advice. Prior to the meeting, I make sure that I have read all the documentation we have been sent in advance and – importantly – make sure I remember the clients’ names!

12.00pm: Following the meeting, I dictate a detailed attendance note so that we have a clear record on file of what was said and agreed. I discuss with my supervisor how I can assist with the matter. On this occasion I will be assisting with drafting some documents.

12.30pm: Lunch time! We’re extremely lucky in the Chelmsford office to have a chef onsite. The menu is emailed out at 11.00 each day so, naturally, I’ve already planned exactly what I’m having and head upstairs to meet up with some colleagues. It’s a nice day, so afterwards we head out for a short walk in the sun before returning to our desks.

1.30pm: While I’ve been at lunch, my secretary has taken a message from a client to call him regarding a deal we are working on. I call him as soon as I am back at my desk and update him on the status of the due diligence work I have been progressing. Following the conversation, I write up an attendance note and update my supervisor.

2.00pm: I begin work drafting the documents from this morning’s meeting while the matter is fresh in my mind. I really enjoy drafting and it’s great to have the opportunity to develop my skills in this area.

5.00pm: This evening we have an office-wide event visiting the Crystal Maze in London. We’re just a 30-minute train journey away from central London and the station is just a short walk from the office. I pack up my things and we head out for what should be a great evening of teambuilding!

About the firm

Senior partner: James Austin

Other offices: Norwich, Cambridge, Chelmsford, London

Who we are: Birketts is a heavyweight full-service law firm in the East of england, ranked top tier in both The Legal 500 and Chambers.

What we do: Our core practice areas include real estate, corporate, banking, litigation and private client with niche specialisms such as shipping and logistics, regulatory and corporate crime, public sector, charities and education.

What we’re looking for: A great attitude to learning, adaptable, bright, driven to exceed expectations. Friendly, passionate, ambitious and keen to build successful relationships. Birketts has been shortlisted for ‘Best Trainer’ – National/Large Regional Firm with LawCareers.Net.

What you’ll do: Trainees experience a blended learning approach during their seats, by our legal teams and our learning and development team, with a great deal of responsibility and client contact, with fun and social interaction with their peers.

Perks: Pension scheme contribution, health and life insurance, gym subsidy, paid CSR day, enhanced maternity or paternity leave, season ticket loan, cycle to work vouchers, social events throughout the year, long service holiday award, agile working.

Sponsorship: The LPC is funded to a maximum of £12,500 if a training contract is awarded and the LPC has not yet been completed.